homicide

Death and the Natural State

VIII. Adjustment.

This is the setup: The state of Arkansas wishes to execute eight people over the course of ten days in four doubleheaders of death overseen by a prisons regime that has never executed anyone at all, using drugs the state has never used before and have shown grotesquely problematic in neighboring Oklahoma, are about to expire, and, according to the manufacturers, do not appear to have been acquired legitimately. Rachel Maddow offered a six and a half minute overview last week.

That would have been Thursday evening. Friday and Saturday saw the whole plan come apart, with one execution stayed at least temporarily, and then a temporary restraining order against one of the intended execution drugs, compelling a federal court to halt all eight executions. This is Arkansas, though; NBC News brings the latest:

Lawyers for the Arkansas attorney general’s office worked feverishly on Saturday in an attempt to dismantle road blocks in the way of a historic spate of executions temporarily halted by court rulings.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson had ordered the execution of eight men over 10 days because one of the state’s lethal injection drugs was set to expire at the end of the month, but a series of court rulings Friday and early Saturday put that schedule in jeopardy.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge made it clear the state was unwilling to concede.

The former Land of Opportunity, naturally, is very much distressed that the courts should meddle with its opportunity excuse for homicidal spectacle.

(more…)

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An Echo of Freedom (Just About Right)

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

Speaking of just another day in America:

A 3-year-old boy is dead after being shot in Ypsilanti Township on Sunday, Nov. 13.

The incident is under investigation, but police believe the incident may have been an accident, said Derrick Jackson of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office.

Police believe another child was playing with a gun when it went off, fatally striking the 3-year-old boy, he said.

(Moran)

The problem with saying that sounds just about right is that it should be possible―merely possible―to say such a thing.

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Image note: Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, “Brittle Bullet”.

Moran, Darcie. “3-year-old shot, killed by child playing with gun, police say”. MLive. 13 November 2016.

Our Sadness

TG-logo-dark

It occurs to me that, while winter-season holiday shopping and promotions often start sometime during the summer, September has arrived and I haven’t done a thing for TDOR.

Neither, I am betting, have you. The list:

• Zella Ziona, 21, Montgomery County, Maryland, 15 October 2015.

• Kiesha Jenkins, 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 6 October 2015

• Tamara Dominiguez, 36, Kansas City, Missouri, 15 August 2015

• Elisha Walker, 20, Smithfield, North Carolina, 13 August 2015

• Kandis Capri, 35, Phoenix, Arizona, 11 August 2015

• Shade Schuler, 22, Dallas Texas, 29 July 2015

• Amber Monroe, 20, Detroit, Michigan, 8 August 2015

• K. C. Haggard, 66, Fresno, California, 23 July 2015

• India Clarke, 25, Tampa, Florida, 21 July 2015

• Ashton O’Hara, 25, Detroit, Michigan, 14 July 2015

• Jasmine Collins, 32, Kansas City, Missouri, 23 June 2015

• Keyshia Blige, 33, Aurora, Illinois, 7 March 2015

• Mercedes Williamson, 17, Rock Creek, Alabama, 30 May 2015

• London Chanel, 21, North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 18 May 2015

• Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46, Miami, Florida, 16 February 2015

• Bri Golec, 22, Akron, Ohio, 13 February 2015

• Penny Proud, 21, New Orleans, Louisiana, 10 February 2015

• Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, 36, San Francisco, California, 1 February 2015

• Yasmin Vash Payne, 33, Los Angeles, California, 31 January 2015

• Ty Underwood, 24, Tyler, Texas, 26 January 2015

• Lamia Beard, 30, Norfolk, Virginia, 17 January 2015

• Papi Edwards, 20, Louisville, Kentucky, 9 January 2015

These are the murders. We’re still counting the suicides.

Please say their names, every one of them.

And Heaven help us, let it stop here and now.

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Our thanks to Mitch Kellaway and Sunnivie Brydum at The Advocate; this is a harrowing list compiled from grim duty, and we really should be keeping our own tally. Meanwhile, at least someone has. Please … #SayHerName.

Kellaway, Mitch and Sunnivie Brydum. “These Are the U.S. Trans Women Killed in 2015”. The Advocate. 27 July 2015.

Something

India Clarke, murdered 21 July 2015, in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Clarke's death is recorded as the tenth murder of a transgendered person in 2015. On 29 July 2015 the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff's Office arrested a suspect, Keith Lamayne Gaillard, and charged him with First Degree Murder with a Firearm.

It’s … something.

The St. Petersburg Police Department is launching a new transgender sensitivity training program.

The training comes two months after a Tampa transgender woman’s murder, and law enforcement’s handling of it, captured national attention.

After 25-year-old India Clarke’s body was found in a Tampa park July 21, law enforcement identified her by the name and gender she was born with even though she had identified as female for years. Backlash from across the country followed, surfacing a discussion about how law enforcement handle the identities of transgender people.

(Associated Press)

We can’t have our friends and neighbors back. But, at the very least, we can have this little shard of decency, that we might wish the true selves of those we leave behind some manner of dignity in rest.

And we’ll take it, because that’s all we have left.

Her name was India Clarke. Please say it. Please, say her name.

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Image note: India Clarke, murdered 21 July 2015, in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Clarke’s death is recorded as the tenth murder of a transgendered person in 2015. On 29 July 2015 the Hillsborough County, Florida Sheriff’s Office arrested a suspect, Keith Lamayne Gaillard, and charged him with First Degree Murder with a Firearm.

Associated Press. “St. Pete Officers to be Trained on Transgender Issues”. WTVJ. 7 September 2015.

Holden, Dominic. “Transgender Woman Of Color Killed In Tampa, Florida”. BuzzFeed. 22 July 2015.

A Brief Thought in the Wake of Inevitability

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 5, 'Brittle Bullet'.

This is our thought for the day:

A California judge has ruled against a proposed ballot initiative authorizing the execution of gay and lesbian people, calling the suggested measure “unconstitutional on its face.”

(Reilly)

This is news. Really, that’s the thought for the day. No, the problem is not that it is reported as news. The problem is neither the judge’s decision nor Attorney General Harris’ request.

The outcome itself is pretty obvious; the three-page judgment is two pages paperwork and one page actual court ruling.

It really is unclear why attorney Matt McLaughlin filed the ballot petition; even in the context of simply making a statement all he has managed to do is embarrass himself and denigrate the “traditionalism” homosexuals already recognize as bigotry. One might reasonably wonder if Mr. McLaughlin is a closet provocateur aiming to discredit traditionalists. Even as such, there is nothing of use or even mere dignity about his tantrum. The problem, in the end, is that the news exists at all.

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Reilly, Mollie. “California Judge Throws Out Ballot Initiative Calling For Execution Of Gay People”. The Huffington Post. 23 June 2015.

Cadei, Raymond M. “Default Judgment by Court in Favor of Plaintiff”. Superior Court of the State of California County of Sacramento. 22 June 2015.

Important Reading

Samaria Rice and her daughter Tajai, left, in Cleveland near where Ms. Rice's son Tamir, 12, was killed by a police officer. (Credit Michael F. McElroy for The New York Times)

It really should be required reading, this article from Shaila Dewan and Richard A. Oppel Jr. of The New York Times:

Seconds later, the boy lay dying from a police officer’s bullet. “Shots fired, male down,” one of the officers in the car called across his radio. “Black male, maybe 20, black revolver, black handgun by him. Send E.M.S. this way, and a roadblock.”

But the boy, Tamir Rice, was only 12. Now, with the county sheriff’s office reviewing the shooting, interviews and recently released video and police records show how a series of miscommunications, tactical errors and institutional failures by the Cleveland police cascaded into one irreversible mistake.

Yes, we have considered these aspects before, but, you know, just who the hell are we and why would we matter?

And Rachel Maddow covered some of these questions in December, but, you know, liberal media conspiraciess and all that. So now we have the New York Times.

Oh.

Right, then. Let’s just cut to the chase, since we all know what the FOX News headline would be: “No Second Chance: Racist msnbc Thugs Hate White People Who Are Trying Really Hard”.

Meanwhile, back in reality, yes, Dewan and Oppel’s article really should be required reading.

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Dewan, Shaila and Richard A. Oppel Jr. “In Tamir Rice Case, Many Errors by Cleveland Police, Then a Fatal One”. The New York Times. 22 January 2015.

NBC News. “‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ for Thursday, December 4th, 2014”. Transcript. NBCNews.com. 5 December 2014.

Pass/Fail

"TRUE OR FALSE: Objecting to certain police tactics is the same as hating all police officers."  (Jen Sorensen, 30 December 2014, via Daily Kos Comics)Remember how the cycle works.

It is a really simple idea: We would like to be able to support our law enforcement institutions and personnel.

This argument has been going on for a while; cartoonist Jen Sorensen asks an obvious question. Indeed, it is so obvious a question one need not wonder why the public discourse flees it in screaming terror.

So here’s the thing: When an ugly episode arises involving law enforcement, we are reminded that these episodes come about because of a proverbial few bad seeds. Yet these few seem rather quite protected by other police traditions that require the participation of the rest of those allegedly good officers. Didn’t see a thing, or the guy was definitely reaching for a gun, or what, do you want a guilty person to go free just because of a technicality?

But that is just a fallacy, a fundamentally dishonest reaction. It always seems to come down to an all-or-nothing proposition put before us by police supporters.

(more…)

Your United States of America

Detail of cartoon by Brian McFadden, 3 December 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.There are days when it absolutely sucks to be an American. Most days you can cheer yourself up by saying, “At least I’m not in Afghanistan!” Or Iraq. Or … well, yeah, that’s the thing, isn’t it?

Here’s the thing about that, the unspoken cheer-your-sorry-ass-up reality about life in the United States: Of course it could be worse. I could be black!

That ain’t gonna help our African-American neighbors cheer up, though. And, in truth, it shouldn’t cheer anyone, period.

A friend of mine noted, via Facebook, that now we’re going to see what a real riot looks like in the wake of a grand jury’s decision to not indict the blue-clad beast that killed Eric Garner. In truth, we should probably hope for a different approach; riots don’t seem to make the point. Then again, perhaps that is the point. The Huffington Post ran with the splash headline, “Strangler Cop Walks”, and perhaps there was a time when this would seem outrageous to suit-and-tie, church-going, patriotic Americans. That is to say, how dare anyone speak ill of the police, or something like that.

But the institutions of law have created extraordinary protection for homicidal law enforcement. Killer cops don’t really need an excuse. After all, as we learned in Missouri, being afraid of black people is a reason for a cop to shoot a black person.

Let us be blunt: When it’s two idiots calling themselves “New Black Panthers” plotting to hit the cops, or an ex-con gunning down badges in a coffee shop, it is easy for people to back even the worst of law enforcement officers. But just how much do our police officers think they can get away with before others decide it’s time to take up arms in defense against cops? And just how ugly do you think that will or won’t be?

(more…)

Offensive, Maybe, In Which Case Just Deal With It

Detail of 'This Modern World' by Tom Tomorrow, 1 December 2014, via Daily Kos Comics.I would like, if I may, to ask that you imagine a simple scene. Everyday Americana. A parking lot, for instance.

There is nothing unusual about parking lots in these United States. Indeed, we hear of them here, there, and everywhere, along roadsides and outside of stores. Even gun stores, like this one. And in this particular parking lot there is a car. And in this car is a seven year-old boy.

At least, he was a seven year-old boy.

Until his father shot him to death, allegedly by accident through negiligence, with a handgun illegally in his possession.

And you know, we’re not going to charge that guy with any crime. He’s suffered enough.

Yes, really. Same country as the one where they shoot black men to death for looking like black men scary, a word that here means “not white enough”.

It’s the best criminal defense in the history of America: I swear in good faith I thought he’s a dirty nigger come’a kill me! And, you know, dead guy’s black, so what spiked grand jury is going to indict?

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Tomorrow, Tom. “Black and White”. This Modern World. Daily Kos Comics. 1 December 2014.

“What Happened in Ferguson?” The New York Times. 25 November 2014.

“Post-Racial” America

Sometimes the narrative is simply undeniable:

Seldom in Barack Obama’s presidency has he looked quite so impotent as he did last night, pleading from a podium in the White House for calm while the cable news split screens showed clouds of tear gas enveloping the streets of Ferguson, Missouri. He repeated the same themes as every time he has spoken about this subject — people have legitimate grievances but there’s no excuse for violence, we’ve come a long way but we have a ways to go, and so on. It never rang more hollow.

President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press regarding the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision, in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Nov. 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)But what should he have said? Obama never actually promised to bind up the nation’s racial wounds — that was a hope others placed upon him, far too naively. Even before taking office, Obama found that no matter how hard he tried to be unthreatening, to incorporate different perspectives into his rhetoric, and to stress what Americans share, many of his opponents would never see him as anything but an agent of racial vengeance. No matter what he did, whether passing an economic stimulus or reforming health care, some would spin a story of race around it, one in which whites were under threat.

If anyone ever thought that with little more than the power of his example Obama could mitigate racial resentments, let alone fray the institutional ligaments of racism, they were quickly disabused of those ideas. His presidency has seen an extraordinary backlash against racial progress, from the Supreme Court to the statehouse, where affirmative action is dismantled, the Voting Rights Act is gutted, one Republican legislature after another passes laws to make it harder for people (mostly minorities) to vote, and conservatives are told again and again that they are the racial victims whose problems are the fault of the black president coming after them because of the color of their skin.

(Waldman)

And this is where we’re at. In America. In the twenty-first century.

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Waldman, Paul. “Barack Obama, Ferguson, and racial wounds unhealed”. The Washington Post. 25 November 2014.

Holst, Lindsay. “President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Ferguson Grand Jury’s Decision”. The White House. 24 November 2014.